By Joy Yoon
Restaurant Week NYC is here! Well, it's actually been here since Monday, but with the snow and State of the Union address and Wale's Twitter getting hacked, we understand if you've missed it so far. The good news? It runs through February 6, so this weekend is a great time to dive in. Over 300 restaurants are offering prix-fixe meals for lunch ($24) and dinner ($35), and it’s the perfect chance for the under paid and under fed to go out and enjoy the “fruits of our labor.” With reduced prices and a variety of menu options, it’s time for you to go out, explore and indulge. And to give you a fork up on the comp, we've got a few rules of the game, and three great restaurants to try before the week is out.
Rules for Restaurant Week:
1. Don’t be a dick. If you have a problem comprehending this simple statement, just stay at home and order take-out…forever.
2. Make a reservation. It can be easily done online or over the phone. People who walk in asking for one, and get angry because they can’t get one, stop complaining. You’re ruining our reservation-made-one-week-in-advance meal.
3. Explore your city. Seek different culinary styles. For less than $40, it’s the perfect opportunity to leave your food comfort zone, without risking the dreaded "I paid $100 for this."
4. Be polite. From hostesses to waiters to runners, saying “thank you” to those serving you doesn’t take much. A sense of entitlement is one of the worst things to have when you come into a restaurant. Food bloggers, are you listening?
5. Substitutions? Unless you’re allergic, don’t ask. The various menus offer several dining options to choose from, but this isn't a la carte. Remember, this is your chance to go outside your comfort zone.
6. Get their names. Did you enjoy your meal and want to come back? Introduce yourself and be sure to get the name of your server, the hostess, and even the manager. Believe it or not, they want you to come back. Customer loyalty is what keeps restaurants alive.
7. Just because it's Restaurant Week prices doesn’t mean you have to leave Restaurant Week tips. If you’re trying to decide between leaving 15% or 20% for a tip, leave 20% (better yet, leave 25%—the meal was cheap!). The difference between the two on a $100 tab is five whole bucks. Even if you are that cheap, keep it to yourself.
8. If you have a problem with any of these rules, please refer to Rule No. 1.
Top picks for Restaurant Week:
Ai Fiori, 400 Fifth Ave. (at 37th St.), (212) 613-8660: Michael White’s Italian restaurant, with Chris Jaeckle as executive chef, offers a menu that is both simple and accessible, and no doubt, delicious. Sardines, squid ink pasta, and skate, oh my!
Café Boulud, 20 East 76th St., (212) 772-2600: Daniel Boulud, one of New York’s premier chefs has many a jewel in his culinary crown, but out of the ones offering Restaurant Week specials, Café Boulud is my favorite. The atmosphere, the service, the food, Restaurant Week or not, I recommend coming here.
Aldea, 31 West 17th St., (212) 675-7223: Chef George Mendes’ bio reads like a Who’s Who in food. After working at such places at Bouley, Arpege, La Bastide, Lespinasse, and Le Moulin de Mougins, he opened his own restaurant in 2009. My suggestion? Let the food speak for itself.